We need a new super-hospital
Future Fit is the biggest shake-up of hospital services in Shropshire for decades.
It may appear to be a binary choice; support it, or oppose it. But there is a third option: a bigger, better, more ambitious plan for the area: Shropshire needs a new super-hospital.
It is vital the consultation does not open up divisions between Shrewsbury and Telford, and that all politicians work for what is best for everyone, not just in the here and now, but for future generations.
I completely understand why people want to defend their local services, and they should be applauded for doing so – but instead of a ‘tug-of-war’ between Telford and Shrewsbury where no-one wins, a new hospital is a long-term solution to Shropshire’s heath care crisis.
Everyone across Shropshire and mid-Wales can benefit from state-of-the-art care that would serve our communities for generations. A new hospital was considered as part of the feasibility study, and is widely acknowledged as the most desirable solution by doctors, clinicians and healthcare professionals, and yet has been discounted on the basis of cost.
It is a false economy to deny the people of Shropshire the best in care because of budget constraints, and yet spend a huge amount of money on an inadequate, short-term “compromise solution”. Future Fit, far from being a result of generosity on the part of the government, is a result of austerity and under-funding.
At a cost of over £300 million, the Future Fit plans are designed to last just 20 years, providing very poor value for money to the taxpayer. The plans are short-term, inadequate and cannot fully meet the challenges facing our health service, but by doubling the investment, modern, accessible and first-class healthcare can be delivered to last for generations.
The consultation lacks detail; at best it’s based on optimistic modelling, and at worst wild assumptions. It is a fallacy that operations will not be cancelled during bed crises. When the emergency centre reaches capacity and all beds are full, patients will have to be transferred to the planned care site, meaning that not only will operations be cancelled, but those patients may be looked after by teams not as experienced in acute or elderly care.
Some patients, deemed low-risk, at the planned care centre may develop complications and require urgent transfer to the ECC. The time taken for transfer may cost lives – and yet there is no mention of this in the consultation documents, and no contingency plans are in place.
As a doctor I have serious doubts that the number of patients who can be treated and discharged at the urgent care centres is as high as predicted, and therefore this model may not provide the relief of pressure on A&E that is predicted.
Working across two sites inevitably means duplication of some services. No-one should be tolerant of waste of precious NHS resources; split-site working is difficult, inherently inefficient and potentially dangerous.
Dr Laura Davies, Labour parliamentary candidate for Shrewsbury and Atcham